We flew back to the UK eight days before our ceremony, having eventually made it to the airport with our cases - there were a lot. One big wedding suitcase, one equally big honeymoon suitcase, a holdall and of course my dress, which, as we have ascertained, was fairly sizable.
Chris of course refused to carry it; I can only imagine that he was worried someone would think it was his. But carrying my heavy frock with aching arms, teamed with the heat, the never-ending queue and the fact that our flight had been cancelled and rebooked, and we hadn't really got off to the start I had been hoping for.
Still, there were plenty of smiles from our fellow passengers - as I say, the dress was hard to ignore - and, joy of joys, when we got the front we were upgraded. I am not sure if this was solely down to my considerable hand-luggage or that fact that Chris incessantly told everyone we met about our wedding. But it worked and we were soon heading for our seats in business class.
Now that was more like it. I didn't think it was possible to eat a three-course meal on an 80 minute flight - you absolutely can. Chris and I had a ball; it was a great beginning to our wedding week.
Our plans to have a restful and relaxing build-up to the big day once we landed were, in hindsight, naïve. We had 'last-minute' jobs to do right up until the day we left for Bickleigh - our highly ambitious 11am car journey eventually commenced at 1.30, thanks to a balloon/camera/map dilemma.
But on the Thursday, a week after we had left for England, we were finally there, at our wedding venue.
That evening we went out for our first celebration - a dinner with our families and close friends. It was a fantastic way to begin our weekend; relaxed and informal and a great deal of fun. After the meal, we all headed back to the bridal suite at Bickleigh where the party continued. I am not sure what time we all eventually turned in - with the arrival of a lot of our guests the next day, and of course our casino evening, I'd like to think we were sensible.
It was a strange feeling lying next to Chris that night while he slept, knowing we were days away from our wedding. Having talked about getting married for so many years, it was unbelievable to me that we were finally here. I eventually fell asleep, with the biggest smile on my face.